Posts Tagged 'Rep. Clyde'

Democrats Applaud Decision of Federal Court to Restore the Last 3 Days of Early Voting to All

Today, a federal court decided that the GOP legislature violated equal protection of the laws by cutting off the final three days of early voting for some but not all voters.  The judge found that it was in the public interest to restore the last three days of early voting and to treat all voters equally.  The decision emphasized all parties’ strong interest in protecting active duty military voting rights. Here is what Democrats had to say:

Ohio House Democratic Leader Armond Budish released the following statement:

“Today’s decision reinstates fairness for Ohio’s busy working voters.  Weekend voting has been a success in Ohio and helped us recover from the failed election in 2004 when long lines caused tens of thousands of voters to leave the polls without casting a ballot.  Some 93,000 voters came out to vote on the final 3 days before the election in 2008 and the court has refused to allow these days to be cut off by partisan legislative trickery.”

Democratic Whip  Tracy Maxwell Heard released the following statement in response to the ruling:

“This is what fairness looks like.  Excellent decision by the court.  This will reduce confusion and increase access.  That’s how a democratic elections process works.”

State Rep. Kathleen Clyde released the following statement in response to the ruling:

“The last three days of early voting are the three busiest, and it is a huge victory for all Ohio voters that these important voting days have been restored. First the Republicans tried to take them away in House Bill 194, but Ohioans fought back and put that legislation to referendum. Then the Republicans cemented the vote suppressing change by again inserting the language into SB 295.  Well, Ohio voters shouldn’t have to stand for the GOP’s tricks any longer.  Thank goodness for this ruling which protects the right to vote for all Ohioans on these 3 busiest days.”

State Rep. Fedor issued the following statement:

“More than 300,000 people signed the petition to keep the final weekend of voting that helped alleviate pressure on the polls after the long lines of 2004.  The Republicans tried to override the voters by reenacting the early voting cuts and then pulling the referendum from the ballot.  Today, the court rightly restored full early voting rights to all Ohioans, including veterans, helping to ensure that we will not return to the 3 and 4-hour lines of 2004.” 

State Rep. Alicia Reece released the following statement:

“Once again, federal courts have issued a ruling to create a balanced voting system in Ohio. I would urge Secretary of State Husted not to appeal the decision and to comply with the orders of the court which will ensure all Ohio voters have equal opportunities to get to the polls and have their voices heard.”

State Rep. Michael Stinziano released the following in response to the ruling:

“I applaud Judge Economus’ decision in the federal court case involving the restriction of voting hours. This is a win for the voters of Ohio and I’m pleased that the judge moved to restore voting rights to all Ohioans so that they can have every opportunity to cast their ballot when it is convenient for them including the last few days before Election Day when unplanned conflicts can arise.  As the former Director of the Franklin County Board of Elections, I have seen and experienced firsthand the importance of an efficient early voting period.  In 2008, roughly 93,000 voters appeared at their early vote center during the last three days of early voting prior to Election Day. Unfortunately, instead of building on this success and a desire for a smooth election day, there are individuals who prefer the long election lines encountered in 2000 and 2004 and are fighting to limit voting rights instead of expanding them.”

State Rep. Sandra Williams released the following statement:

“Judge Economous’ injunction correctly pointed out that that there was no compelling reason for the Ohio Secretary of State to prohibit county boards of elections from allowing early voting for the three days before election day, especially when most county boards were open for early voting during those times in 2006, 2008, and 2010.   Reversing Secretary Husted’s decision will level the playing field as some 93,000 Ohioans took advantage of early voting to avoid long lines in 2008. The people of this state are well-served by having more time to vote, rather than fewer days and shorter hours to cast a ballot.”

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Rep. Clyde Commends President in Fight to Restore Early Voting

State Rep. Kathleen Clyde released the following statement on the decision by President Obama’s campaign to file suit in federal court today to restore early voting during the Saturday, Sunday and Monday before Election Day.

“I applaud President Obama’s decision to fight the shameful attempts by Ohio Republicans to limit early voting.  I have fought this battle on the floor of the legislature and also made repeated calls to Secretary of State Jon Husted to allow the people to vote, all to no avail.  The last three days of early voting are by far the three busiest.  These days are crucial to the ability of all Ohioans to exercise their right to vote, free from the long lines and chaos that plagued our state in 2004.  Ohio Republicans want to take us back to a time when voting was a privilege, not one of our most sacred rights.  President Obama wants to take us forward, and I commend him for it.”

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State Reps. Clyde and Phillips Urge Gov. Kasich to Veto Controversial Provision Regarding Student Loans

State Reps. Kathleen Clyde and Debbie Phillips sent a letter urging Gov. John Kasich to exercise his line item veto power over a provision contained in House Bill 487.  The provision would grant the State Treasurer the authority to deposit any unexpected revenues paid for by Ohio college students in the State Treasurer’s office administrative fund. 

The Full letter can be seen below:

Dear Governor Kasich,

We write to respectfully ask for your consideration of using the line-item veto power on ORC Section 3366.05 contained in Am. Sub. H.B. 487. After carefully reviewing this section of proposed law, we believe it to be contrary to the best interests of Ohio’s college students.

This portion of the mid-biennium budget bill received little scrutiny.  To our knowledge, this proposed law was added in Senate Finance Committee with little, if any, discussion on the language and its potential consequences.

This section of the code authorizes the Treasurer of State to operate as a servicer of federal student loans “to take such actions and to enter into such contracts and to execute all instruments necessary or appropriate to act” as a servicer; deposit revenues received for this purpose in a custodial fund located outside the state treasury; and specifies that any revenues that are unexpended must be deposited in the Treasurer’s state administrative fund. It is this last provision, in particular, that causes us the greatest concern.

As written, this provision would allow the State Treasurer to use any “unexpended revenues” paid for by Ohio college students to bolster the administrative fund for the State Treasurer’s office.  Although the act of servicing student loans by the State Treasurer is not necessarily disagreeable, allowing excess student loan funds to be used for unspecified administrative purposes is bad public policy.

Additionally, using these “unexpended revenues” for administrative spending is overly broad, and there is no requirement that these funds be used to support Ohio college students directly or indirectly.

It remains unclear where the language came from and who is supportive of potentially authorizing the use of student loan interest and fees to support the administrative fund for the State Treasurer’s office.  If this is a law change the State Treasurer sought through the MBR, it would have been helpful to hear directly from him on precisely how he plans to use any unexpended revenues.

As student loan debt tops $1 trillion throughout the nation, and students in Ohio average $27,000 in debt for a four year degree, we must do all we can to help make college affordable for all Ohioans.  As it stands, it is unclear if this policy change accomplishes this goal. 

Clearly, adding this policy change into and expansive piece of legislation at the last minute did not allow for the legislature to fully review and consider this proposal.  By exercising your line-item veto authority now, the legislature can take this matter up as a stand-alone bill and examine this proposal and better understand its impact on Ohio college students.
 

Sincerely,
State Rep. Debbie Phillips                                                     
State Rep. Kathleen Clyde

MUST READ: House Republican’s Sneak Attack on Women and Families

While House Democrats are working to create and maintain good paying jobs through programs focused on education like our Kids and Communities First Fund, just introduced, Republicans continue their partisan agenda attacking women’s rights, workers’ rights and voter’s rights.  Their effort to defund Planned Parenthood is just the latest example. Excerpts of an article by the Huffington Post are below:

“The GOP may insist that there is no war on women, but the campaign against Planned Parenthood, which provides health care to one in five American women each year, is gaining ground in the Midwest.

“Republican state representatives in Ohio slipped an amendment into the state’s substitute budget bill on Tuesday that puts family planning clinics like Planned Parenthood at the bottom of funding priorities and blocks them from receiving funding for cancer screenings and HIV and domestic violence services.

“Defunding Planned Parenthood through Ohio’s budget bill is a way for GOP lawmakers to pass the measure without having to vote on a separate bill, which would likely cause controversy. The Planned Parenthood amendment, introduced by Republicans in the House Finance Committee on Tuesday, puts family planning clinics that provide abortions in the bottom tier of priority for Title X funds, making it more likely that the state will run out of money before it can provide any funding to Planned Parenthood.

“The amendment further prohibits federal funds from the Minority HIV/AIDS Initiative, the Violence Against Women Act, the Breast and Cervical Cancer Mortality Prevention Act and the Infertility Prevention Project from going to Planned Parenthood or any other family planning clinic that provides abortions.

“The GOP-controlled House is expected to vote on the budget bill next week and pass it, with the amendment attached.

“’This House seems to stop at nothing to attack women and their reproductive rights, and in this case, their access to basic health care and cancer screenings,’ State Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent), a member of the House Finance Committee, told HuffPost. ‘It’s just a very tough legislature to be a part of.’

“Planned Parenthood Affiliates of Ohio said that of its 37 health centers, only three perform abortions, and none of the $1.7 million it receives in federal funding annually is used to pay for abortions. Opponents of the amendment are concerned that many of the rural and low-income women in Ohio who rely on Planned Parenthood clinics for basic health and family planning services will not have any nearby alternative if Planned Parenthood is stripped of funding.

“Republicans on the Finance Committee, however, ‘seem to be burying their head in the sand on that issue,’ Clyde said. ‘We’ve heard some pretty clear testimony that the services are not available — there’s already wait times, not enough doctors out there offering these services — but the Republicans seem to think that other types of health centers can pick up all of the extra demand and absorb all of these patients. I think that is completely false.’

“House Finance Chairman Rep. Ron Amstut (R-Wooster) and state Rep. Kristina Roegner (R-Hudson), who are pushing the amendment, did not respond to calls for comment.

…”

Read the full article here.

House Dems Urge Caution with Unprecedented Legislative Repeal

Ohio House Democrats held a press conference to urge caution as House Republicans look to move forward with an unprecedented partial legislative repeal (SB 295) of HB 194.   The measures also includes additional language beyond repealing HB 194, which lawmakers contend will make this unprecedented legislative maneuver is ripe for a constitutional challenge.

“This theme is playing out across the country. In the 2008 presidential election, record numbers of young people, lower income people, and minorities voted.  Since then, Republicans have been executing a strategy to make it more difficult for those populations to vote, thereby trying to ensure their success at the ballot box this November – not by winning a clean campaign on the issues, but by gaming the system, creating voter confusion and chaos, and pursuing a set of punitive rules that hurt voters.  It is outrageous, and we will continue to speak out about their dirty tricks and tactics,” said State Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D- Kent).

Most recently Reps. Clyde and Gerberry reached out to Speaker Batchelder over the legislative spring break, urging caution with the Republicans’ unprecedented legislative repeal bill of HB 194 through SB 295.  In a letter to Speaker Batchelder they laid out three consensus-building steps on how Democrats can work with the Republican leaders to ensure a smooth election this fall. First, any bill should contain a clean repeal of HB 194, not a partial repeal like SB 295. Second, bi-partisan support and consent of the petition committee would be required. Third, Republicans would have to make a firm public commitment not to make other election law changes at any point before November.  A copy of the letter to the Speaker is attached.

“Time and time again we have given Republicans the opportunity to work with us to improve our elections system, but they refuse and at every turn Republican leaders of this state prove they will stop at nothing to disenfranchise voters,” said State Rep. Ronald V. Gerberry, ranking member of the State Government and Elections Committee (D-Austintown).  I am incredibly disappointed in my colleague’s decision to continue to pursue yet another lawsuit; it is a complete abdication of our duty to the people of this state to use their hard earned tax dollars in an attempt to make their voices silent and their votes unheard.” 

 “A pre-emptive legislative repeal to a law that has been certified for a citizen’s referendum has never occurred in the Ohio General Assembly’s 209-year history.  Pursuing such an unprecedented maneuver with broad partisan opposition will only strengthen a potential constitutional challenge,” said State Rep. Vernon Sykes (D-Akron).  “Furthermore, continuing to pursue lawsuits at the federal and state level on the taxpayer’s dime in an effort to receive a different outcome is simply unacceptable.”

Yesterday, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals again ruled against Secretary of State Jon Husted and Hamilton County Republicans, ordering that provisional ballots in the undecided 2010 Hamilton Country Juvenile Court judge’s race be counted.  In response, Senate President Niehaus and Rep. Blessing filed a suit in the Ohio Supreme Court against Secretary Husted in another desperate attempt to throw out registered voters’ provisional ballots.  Using taxpayer dollars to argue against counting eligible voters ballots, often cast due to poll worker error, shows just how out of whack Republicans’ priorities are.

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Relief Fund for Schools and Communities Proposed by House Lawmakers

Ohio House Democratic lawmakers announced a new proposal today to help offset the impacts of last year’s historically deep state budget cuts to schools and local communities.  The Kids & Communities First Fund uses surplus revenue to make up to $400 million available to schools and communities this year, and another $500 million once Gov. John Kasich’s proposed severance tax increase takes effect.  

“The Kids and Communities First Fund will help keep teachers in the classroom, and cops and firefighters on the streets in communities all across Ohio,” said House Minority Leader Armond Budish (D–Beachwood). “Additionally, this fund will help curb the growing need for local tax levies due to state budget cuts and provide relief for local property taxpayers.”

The Kids and Communities First Fund will be offered as an amendment to Gov. Kasich’s Mid-Biennium Review (HB 487).  The fund will make up to $400 million available this year from surplus revenue (currently $265 million), a portion of the Budget Stabilization Fund ($120 million), and $15 million from Gov. Kasich’s proposed severance tax increase.  The fund would be replenished after fiscal year 2013 by increased severance tax revenue.

“It’s been 15 years since the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that our school funding system is unconstitutional because it relies too heavily on local property taxes,” said State Rep. Debbie Phillips (D-Albany).  “Today, instead of finding ways to reduce this over-reliance, the state of Ohio is walking away from that responsibility and leaving the burden of educating our children squarely on the backs of local property taxpayers.”

Lawmakers calculated that districts are facing a combined school-funding deficit of over $1.79 billion in fiscal year 2014.  This is based on a calculation of each school district’s five-year projection of finances, which is required to be submitted to the Ohio Department of Education.  Policy Matters Ohio also estimates that school districts in “Fiscal Watch” or “Fiscal Emergency” could spike by 300 percent this year, from 14 to 43.

“Stories of communities cutting or privatizing critical safety services and in some cases even considering dissolving all together are pouring in from across the state,” said State Rep. Alicia Reece (D-Cincinnati).  “If we don’t protect our communities, we undercut our economic recovery and hurt working and middle class families.”

Compared to fiscal year 2011, the state budget (HB 153) cut nearly $1.1 billion from communities last year.  Specifically, the Local Government Fund was cut by $463 million; state funding provided to offset previously eliminated business property taxes were cut by $492 million; and state funding provided to offset previously reduced utility property taxes were cut by $135 million.

“Failing to address last year’s deep budget cuts will hurt our schools and make Ohio less economically competitive.” said Rep. John P. Carney (D- Columbus).  “Doing nothing will keep forcing local taxes to go up and put more pressure on middle class Ohioans.” 

According to Matt Mayer, the former head of the conservative think-tank the Buckeye Institute, local property taxes have gone up in Ohio under Gov. Kasich because of state budget cuts.  In a recently published column, Mayer states, “net taxes on Ohioans have gone up under Governor Kasich, making our state even less competitive.”

“Our state is only as strong as our schools and our local communities,” State Rep. Matt Lundy (D- Elyria). “If we do nothing we will hurt our children’s education, weaken safety services in our communities and create even more pressure on local property taxpayers.”

The Kids & Communities First Fund would be available as early as July 2012, when the current fiscal year ends.  It would make up to $400 million available for schools and communities to apply for an emergency relief grant. After fiscal year 2013, the fund would be supported by the severance tax increase as proposed by Gov. Kasich and a portion of that funding would be available to protect local communities that are most affected by hydraulic fracturing though a local impact grant.

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Women’s Caucus Calls for Focus on Policies to Support Women & Families

The Ohio House Democratic Women’s Caucus today held a press conference to discuss several pieces of legislation focused on advancing rights and opportunities in all aspects of women’s lives.

“Women are a majority of the population and can make a difference when we unite behind legislation that will improve lives of women and families,” said State Representative Nancy Garland (D-New Albany), Chair of the Women’s Caucus. “Women’s History Month is a great time to refocus our attention on common-sense policies designed to support, benefit and encourage the advancement of women here in Ohio.”

Several bills recently introduced by members of the Women’s Caucus help ensure all women have access to quality healthcare, including HB 419, the CARE Act; HB 281, the Prevention First Act; and HB 412, to establish health insurance exchanges in Ohio. All three bills were introduced by State Rep. Nickie J. Antonio (D-Lakewood).

“We must continue to support Ohio women’s right to access basic healthcare and accurate information regarding their healthcare decisions,” Rep. Antonio said. “These rights should not be legislated away nor used as a political football. Women’s lives hang in the balance.”

Members of Women’s Caucus have also introduced legislation to protect Ohio women and families from violations of their right to safety and security. HB 262, sponsored by State Rep. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo), aims to stop human sex trafficking in Ohio and to protect young women and girls from being forced into sexual slavery.

“Human trafficking victims are more likely to have HIV and other sexually transmitted infections and are more likely to suffer from mental illness,” Rep. Fedor said. “And the average trafficking victim wants to leave prostitution but can’t.”

A woman’s right to security also extends to security in her own home. State Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent) is cosponsoring HB 103, a bill to protect victims of domestic violence by keeping their home addresses confidential. Additionally, State Rep. Denise Driehaus (D-Cincinnati) is cosponsoring HB 105, legislation to protect and support domestic violence victims by guaranteeing their rights to safety at home and at work.

“Survivors of domestic violence deserve to live safe from their abusers. I truly hope Ohio can join 37 other states by enacting this important Address Confidentiality Program legislation,” said Rep. Clyde.

“Victims’ advocates have said that stability in housing and employment are the largest hurdles in keeping their lives together, staying safe and protecting their children,” said Rep. Driehaus. “We need to empower victims so they know it’s okay to ask for help, it’s okay to ask for time off, it’s okay to ask for new locks, and it’s okay to leave when their safety or their children’s safety are at risk.”

In addition to discussing the many pieces of women-focused legislation, the members of the Women’s Caucus reinforced their commitment to creating good-paying, long-term jobs for Ohio’s women through job creation measures such as the Local Government Jobs Fund and the Small Business Working Capital Loan Program.


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